Outside in: Pratyusha

Wednesday, April 22, 2020 - 11:52

Pratyusha is an Indo-Swiss writer who currently co-edits the eco/world zine called amberflora. Her forthcoming pamphlet, Bulbul Calling is available for preorder with Bitter Melon Press.


March should have seen Pratyusha join us for a special edition of National Poetry Library Lates celebrating Hayward Gallery’s exhibition, Among the Trees. However, our current closure sadly meant that evening of poetry inspired by the natural world did not go ahead. Instead, Pratyusha has allowed us to share her poem stilltime here on our website. But, before that, she tells us what she can see from the window of her lockdown location, and shares her favourite trees and seasons as we attempt to bring the outside in.

National Poetry Library Lates: March

Southbank Centre: What can you see from your window right now?

Pratyusha: I'm with my family in Switzerland during this lockdown. I can see the view that I've grown up with: my neighbour's house, the valley below. There are two tall Lombardy poplars now, coming into leaf, the first verdant green of spring. I love watching the young leaves ripple in the wind. As a child I would watch full moons and crescent moons that perched high between the two trees. Two nights ago a pink moon bloomed between them.


Do you have a favourite season?

It used to be autumn, but now it's the transition between spring and summer. Days bleed into night; I love feeling the sun on my back, my legs; it's mango season; gardens are fragrant and in full bloom. The warmth makes me so much happier, being able to spend hours outside, languorous in the melting gold of the light. It's just before the merciless heat of the summer, but hot enough that you can wear cool linen, hear frogs croaking at night, smell the day's heat rising from roses at 10pm.


Have you got a favourite tree? Perhaps a second favourite?

I'm always dreaming about my favourite trees:

  • the banyan's ancestral roots, its wide-ranging vein-like structures
  • the oak: I spent summers as a child collecting acorns and was reminded of that when I watched My Neighbour Totoro recently
  • spruce trees, which grow in abundance in Switzerland
  • the gulmohar tree, 'flame-of-the-forest', mirage-like colour on a hot, dusty summer day
  • glimpsing the moon through the palm tree's fronds


Could you perhaps share with us a writing prompt, that may help us to bring the outside into our own spaces?

A dreamscape: meet a person in a dream-garden. What is the garden like? Who are you meeting? What plants surround you? What do you speak about? How does the dream change colour and form?




by Pratyusha


following the capacity for light/ among these heady grasses
    green and guessing, warm / soft and ready to rise again, soft
        and ready to sleep again/ what vernal shadows exist in flux 

meeting is also bridged under-dream-water/ tremulous & floating on a block of ice
    have we met in the in-between/ where you are awash with sleep & where your
        memory curls into light and crashes through/ years of glassy reincarnation

what talk of transformation/ we talk of renewal, of bringing everything back
    luxuriant and drunk on colours/ this gold of autumn crackling on a frail snare
        our own attention dulled and/ flailing at the storm’s edge, besieged

every whisper split into fragments of mirror/ am I asleep or erased
    how easy is it to resurrect this dream/ where these textures feel like skin
        narration is an imprint and a tied growth/ slipping into an endless circle 


‘stilltime’ was originally published in Sluice Magazine. Pratyusha’s forthcoming pamphlet Bulbul Calling is available for preorder with Bitter Melon.

preorder Bulbul Calling



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